by Dan Goldwasser
Name: Jeff Atmajian
Profession: Orchestrator / Composer
Education: BA in Composition from CSU Fresno. Certificate in Film Scoring from the first year ('84-'85) of the Film Scoring Program at USC. Started Piano study at 8, began composing and arranging at 14. Added (to my classical piano studies) jazz piano study at 16.
Recent films worked on: The Interpreter, Oliver Twist, The Shaggy Dog, Freedomland, King Kong
Biggest films worked on: Groundhog Day, The American President, Waterworld, You've Got Mail, The Sixth Sense, Chocolat, King Kong and the unused score to Troy
What is your musical background:In my teens I had a lot of interest in classical piano music, pop music and various types of jazz. In my late teens I began to really be drawn in to all types of "Classical" music (right up to new music by contemporary composers). I began to really study symphonic works and chamber and choral works mostly within the period of 1780 - 1950 with my favorite being perhaps the romantic/post romantic periods. I also continued to be interested in jazz though mostly trios more than Big Band.
How did you get into recording music for film? Not long after leaving USC I got a job copying on the film The Three Amigos, where I met Christopher Palmer who was a truly gifted and educated orchestrator, arranger and man of letters. He liked my work and offered me a job in Europe assisting him in preparing scores for a recording that featured the work of Miklos Rozsa and took place in Nurnberg. Then on to do a film Elmer Bernstein was scoring (Amazing Grace and Chuck). That started me into films and a two years later I became George Fenton's orchestrator. The rest followed from there.
What was the best experience you've had? I have to say with all honesty that there have been so many I wouldn't know where to start. Getting to work with Andre Previn on a recording of Porgy and Bess and helping Christopher in producing classical recordings with the BBC Symphony Orchestra were definite highlights. As to the films I have been so blessed to work with such high quality composers that all the experiences, varied as they are, have been wonderful.
Without naming names or titles, what is the worst situation you've ever had at a session, and why? To be truthful there is no dire situation that I can think of. Many times have seen much intensity but that is part of the gig.
What are you working on now? I've just finished producing the score and orchestrating for Peter Jackson's King Kong with James Newton Howard.
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